The art world–where deals were once founded on a handshake between friends–has become much more complex and contentious. The amount of money at stake has skyrocketed. The number of participants has continued to expand, and cross-border transactions are now the norm rather than the exception. New regulations–including those related to cultural property, museum acquisitions and nonprofit governance–complicate operations. Technology has created new opportunities and obligations.
The art law team at Davis Wright Tremaine knows that world. In a business based on personal contacts, we have strong relationships throughout the art world. Some of us have significant backgrounds in the fine arts. With long experience in the industry’s legal and business issues, we can help you spot opportunities, identify issues before they arise, manage risk, resolve disputes expeditiously, and give you the peace of mind to focus on other creative and business priorities.
We represent art museums, galleries, dealers, appraisers, collectors, artists and their estates, art publishers, image libraries and auction houses across the country. We advise these clients on a broad range of matters from the nuts and bolts of contracts and licenses and regulatory compliance, through litigation and ways to avoid it, to analysis of the impact of new technologies on the business of making, exhibiting, selling and buying art. We represent the Private Art Dealers Association (PADA) and the New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA). We also handle Holocaust restitution cases. One such case involved a Matisse that was stolen during World War II, in which we helped a museum recover compensation after it returned the painting to its rightful heirs. In another case, we are suing for the return of a major work by Pissarro which was looted by the Nazis in 1939, a case which raises cutting edge issues of foreign sovereignty.
As part of a national, full-service firm, we are not limited to helping our clients solely with “pure” art issues. Our art law team is part of a broader arts and entertainment industry team that is widely recognized as one of the best in the country. Our intellectual property team helps museums, publishers, artists and photographers with digital rights management issues. Working together, our intellectual property and media teams help clients with copyright issues related to “orphaned” works. Our technology team helps with website strategies and policies, as well as with licensing issues related to the Web. Our litigators handle First Amendment, intellectual property, Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA), breach of warranty and other disputes. Our attorneys in tax, trusts and estates, employment law, non-profit organizations, real estate, and general commercial litigation are all available to handle a broader spectrum of matters.